5 Resources for Friends and Family of Drug Users
As a friend or family member of an individual struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you have undoubtedly experienced a lot of conflicting emotions in reaction to your loved one’s addiction. These may include anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, frustration, guilt, and grief — but also, glimmers of hope.
Still, it is an undoubtedly stressful and difficult situation. Even if your addicted loved one has gotten help or is in the process of working through their addiction, you may need help processing your own emotions, trauma, and unresolved inner conflicts.
Addiction is rarely an isolated problem affecting a single individual. It usually stems from dysfunction in one’s home life, within their personal relationships with friends and family, unsettled trauma, mental health issues, or a combination of any of these. So it’s no wonder that friends and family members play vital roles in the recovery process.
People in recovery are more likely to complete and successfully maintain their sobriety if they have a strong support system behind them. Part of treatment for addiction includes diving into the root causes of the addict’s behavior which often brings up issues of family life, domestic abuse, past trauma, and other troubling contentions.
Even though delving into these can be painful and uncomfortable for everyone involved, it is absolutely paramount that the family heals together. Offering your support to the addict is crucial, but friends and family must also be actively involved in the healing process. Specifically, here are five resources you can use to be fully present and involved as your loved one works toward recovery.
1. Meetings or Support Groups
Meetings for support and accountability can be helpful both for addicts and loved ones. After all, healing from addictive behavior is an ongoing process that doesn’t end when the patient leaves rehab.
What’s more, twelve-step groups aren’t just for addicts. Al-Anon, Alateen, and Codependents Anonymous are just a few that are also dedicated to helping friends and family members recover from the effects of addiction. These organizations can help you set up boundaries, offer you support, and provide comfort as you start a new chapter with your loved one.
Your community may also have other organizations and groups to lead your support network through substance abuse and the recovery process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these groups for guidance — being educated about the dangers and reality of addiction and relapse is essential to the wellbeing of everyone involved.
2. Family Therapy
Family therapy can be a key component to lasting recovery. Some in-patient rehab facilities even have a “Family Week” in which the immediate family members most affected by the addict’s destructive behaviors attend all-day intensive therapy sessions to address the root causes of various issues.
These can be a good kick-off to ongoing conversations, but once the addict completes treatment and returns home, the real work begins. It is recommended that families regularly meet with a specialized therapist for techniques and tools that can help them rebuild and sustain better relationships. For example, a family therapist might cover the following strategies:
- how to listen attentively
- effective communication
- healthy ways of expressing emotions
- how family dynamics correlate to recovery
3. National Helplines
If you’re in the midst of a crisis or have limited access to other resources, a drug abuse helpline can be an invaluable asset. These helplines are toll-free numbers staffed by supportive personnel to provide confidential and anonymous information related to alcohol and drug addiction and treatment. They can provide information on substance abuse, treatment facilities, 12-step and other support groups, and other addiction and drug-related topics. Plus, calls and personal information are anonymous, so you can reach out for support confidentially.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: This information service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for individuals and family members facing mental health issues or substance abuse. The service is available in English and Spanish and provides information and referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, community-based organizations, and free publications. You can reach them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: This helpline is not just for those contemplating suicide but also for anyone suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. If you are concerned with the mental health of a loved one struggling with addiction, this helpline has over 160 crisis centers. They are available 24/7 for anyone in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Their number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a national agency dedicated to helping you find local drug treatment centers, working toward the prevention of drug use and relapse. They offer around-the-clock help and advice for addicts and their loved ones.
4. Books and Other Media
Wherever your loved one is in their journey to recovery, sometimes the quiet option of individual research is exactly what you need to thoroughly consider and process your situation. Books and videos can be reviewed in your own time, and at your own pace. Furthermore, you can do these things alone or in conjunction with attending meetings and therapy, making them a flexible option perfect for any addict or loved one. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are three of the most recommended books by addiction specialists:
- Codependent No More by Melody Beattie: A simple, straightforward insight into the complex world of codependency with instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests. Beattie’s insights have helped millions to understand that while we are powerless to change others, we can change ourselves, charting a path to freedom, healing, and hope.
- Boundaries by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend: This book is a memoir that takes an honest look at redemption and forgiveness through tough love and moxie. With a focus on the importance of taking ownership and responsibility of our lives while setting and sticking to boundaries, this insightful book will teach you when to say yes and when to say no.
- Everything Changes by Beverly Conyers: Acting as a guide for newly recovered addicts and their loved ones during the early months of recovery, Conyers outlines the psychological and physical changes that the recovering addict will go through. Her book offers practical tools for building a relationship with the addict, avoiding enabling behaviors, setting boundaries, and helping friends and family members cope with a relapse.
For other multimedia resources, the SAMHSA website also has a section dedicated to videos, guides, and articles that you might find helpful.
5. Countrywide Testing
On the road to recovery, there are many speed bumps that can push a struggling addict toward relapse. For their support network, it can become of utmost importance to recognize and address any backsliding. If you’re monitoring your loved ones for signs of new or resurging substance abuse, Countrywide Testing can help.
Our online store can provide for all of your at-home drug testing needs — whether you need a test to administer now, or a few to have on hand for future emergencies. And when it comes time for testing, you can rest easy knowing that our lab is SAMHSA accredited, ensuring your test results meet the highest possible standards.
Our test kits are affordable, ship quickly, and are convenient for in-home use. Check out our inventory, contact us online, or reach out by phone at (619) 292-8734. Our team of experts is ready to help you in figure out what drug test(s) will be the most effective for your situation.
Remember, family members can play an invaluable role in helping their loved ones stay sober. With respect and support, change is possible.
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